As we prepare for the Euros, take a look back at previous campaigns.
By David Barber
England have twice been European Under-21 Champions – in 1982 and 1984. Dave Sexton was the Manager as we beat West Germany and Spain in the respective two-leg Finals. We also reached the Final of the last competition and have appeared in five other semi-finals.
These have been the highlights:-1978: Semi-Finalists
England began their first qualifying competition with a 1-0 win in Finland, David Peach’s shot being fumbled into the net by the Finnish ‘keeper. England topped Group Five with four wins out of four to qualify for a quarter final with Italy which they won 2-1 on aggregate. England lost their semi-final 3-2 on aggregate to eventual Championship winners Yugoslavia, drawing 1-1 at Maine Road with Steve Sims’ goal after a 2-1 defeat in Novi Sad.1980: Semi-Finalists
England finished top of their group, again with four wins out of four, to qualify for a quarter final with Scotland which they won 2-1 on aggregate. England lost the first leg of their semi-final 2-1 to the German Democratic Republic at Bramall Lane. Justin Fashanu’s 85th-minute header equalised Raab’s earlier effort before Dennstedt drove in a last-winner winner. Kreer scored the only goal in Jena to take the Germans through 3-1 on aggregate.1982: Winners
England won the group to set up a quarter final with Poland, which they won 4-3 on aggregate. Garry Thompson scored the only goal of the semi-final first leg against Scotland at Hampden Park and Adrian Heath’s equaliser at Maine Road made it 2-1 on aggregate. England won the first leg of the Final 3-1 at Bramall Lane, Gary Owen scoring two and Fashanu adding the other. Mike Duxbury and Paul Goddard netted in the 3-2 defeat in Bremen, the 5-4 aggregate score in England’s favour clinching the trophy. Pictured above with the trophy is FA Secretary Ted Croker, Sexton, assistant coach Terry Venables and FA Chairman Bert Millichip.1984: Winners
England headed the group with five wins out of six and thrashed France 7-1 on aggregate in the quarter final, Mark Hateley scoring four at Hillsborough. Italy were beaten 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-final, with Chamberlain, D’Avray and Sterland (penalty) contributing goals as we achieved a 3-1 lead in the first leg at Maine Road. Sterland’s goal won the Final’s first leg against Spain in Seville and England won at Bramall Lane with Hateley and Gayle on target. Sexton’s battlers had retained the trophy 3-0 on aggregate. The squad photograph can be seen above.1986: Semi-Finalists
England topped the group by two points and beat Denmark 2-1 on aggregate in the quarter final. Manager Sexton was forced to take an inexperienced side with six new caps to the semi-final’s first leg in Pisa and Italy beat them 2-0. The end of England’s domination of the Championship was confirmed in the second leg at Swindon as a classy Italian team that included Vialli, Mancini and Zenga was good value for the 1-1 draw. 1988: Semi-Finalists
England scraped through as group winners, drawing three out of four. Then Scotland were beaten 1-0 both in Aberdeen and Nottingham to set up a semi-final with France. Sexton’s England were without nine first-choice players for the first leg in Besancon and went down 4-2. England were twice ahead at a rain-soaked Highbury, through Paul Gascoigne and a Silvestre own goal, but a Cantona brace put France into the Final.2007: Semi-Finalists
England had to negotiate qualifiers with Moldova and Switzerland and then a two-leg play-off against the Germans to make it through to the Finals in Holland, by which time Stuart Pearce
had replaced Peter Taylor as Manager. Two draws and a win in Group B set up a semi-final against the hosts in Heerenveen, which England lost 13-12 on penalties. The teams were locked at 1-1 after extra time, Leroy Lita having given us the lead.2009: Runners-Up
England ended a successful qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over Portugal before nearly 28,000 at Wembley, securing a play-off spot against the Welsh which we won 5-4 on aggregate. England finished top of Group B in the Swedish Finals, then beat the hosts on penalties in Gothenburg after a 3-3 draw. The Final in Malmo was a disappointing affair, England’s dreams shattered by a 4-0 defeat against Germany.